"I can see the city lights and hear the sounds of moving vehicles and party music, at last, we're nearing the civilization"Exactly 41 days after my last climb (yikes, more than one month akong walang hike), I'm back again on the trails - and it was a major come back (Mt. Arayat traverse day hike for the win). Actually, it was Agnes of trampingphilippines.com who planned this major climb on Mt. Arayat, a Maglang-Arayat traverse dayhike she said. And since I am free on the 13th of May (yup, it was a mother's day climb), and the budget here suits very well with my almost exhausted wealth (ang hirap maging unemployed), I said yes to this climb.
But unexpected things do happen, a day before our climb, Agnes backed out due to some health issues. Responsibility now left on my shoulder. Ako na daw ang bahala sa climb group, madami naman kami kaya ituloy pa rin daw namin. Alright, wala nang atrasan 'to.
May 13, 2012 (Mother's Day 2012) - The climb pushed through. Our call time at Victory Liner Cubao was 3:30 AM, but I came a little more than 30 minutes late (sorry naman, I came all the way from a birthday party in Laguna and also, wala pa akong tulog). We missed Victory Liner's first trip to Olongapo (dahil nga late ako), so we walked to other bus line to check if there are trips to San Fernando, Pampanga.
Indeed, there's a bus bound for Orani, Bataan (it will pass by San Fernando) leaving in just a few minutes. Fare was P102.00, but since I look like a 15 year old kiddo, the bus conductor gave me student discount (P82.00 lang binayad ko). Strange that he did not ask for my student ID which I already surrendered about 2 months ago. At 4:30 AM, the bus left Cubao.
From SM Pampanga, the town of Magalang was our next destination. It was around 6AM when we arrived at SM. According to Pinoy Mountaineer site, jeeps heading to Magalang are waiting in front of SM Pampanga. We asked and checked around, but there were no jeeps yet at 6 in the morning, I guess we're too early for Magalang-bound jeeps. So we patiently waited, and waited and waited. Urghh, wala talaga! People said we're like waiting for a rain drop in a season of drought.
Almost 06:45 AM when we decided to just rent the van parked in front of SM (thanks to sirs Bogart, Niño, and Migs for arranging our ride). We paid P140.00 each, a price quite higher than the supposed commute fare, pero okay lang, kaya pa naman siya i-shoulder ng depleting budget ko. The rented van brought us directly to Brgy. Ayala (the main jump-off) right exactly where the concrete road ends. Our van missed the "campo" - the registration site - so we just listed our names in a piece of paper and gave it to a tanod (we're not really sure if he's a tanod), sabi niya siya na raw mag-reregister sa amin.
We did not hire a guide (dagdag expense pa yun, hindi na kaya ng bulsa ko) because I have read online that the confusing trail between the two peaks of Mt. Arayat is now filled with obvious trail signs. We'll just rely on these signs. Before we started, I prayed that this group, composed purely of first timers in Mt. Arayat, would successfully traverse the notorious mountain. At exactly 7:15 AM, we started the trek.
Into the North Peak
A brand new Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross would welcome the hikers coming from Brgy. Ayala. Life sized statues depicting Christ's sufferings on his way to Mt. Calvary are set on the early parts of the Magalang Trail. It was however complete only until the 6th station, stations beyond that were still under construction further up the trail.
|Via Crucis on Magalang trail - under construction|
|Beautiful rocky-rooty scene|
|the split - turn right to the White Rocks|
turn left to proceed to the North Peak
|huge rocks on our way to the white rocks viewdeck|
|the north peak seen from the White Rock View deck. Note that there's a tower on the summit.|
|ako lang at wala nang iba.|
|almost at the summit|
|Photo from Mam Mars.|
Them with the French girls
After that roughly 4 hours trek to the summit, I can say that the Magalang trail is fairly easy, could be done by beginners. There's no confusing parts, and the ascent was not very strenuous. Also, the biota is relatively healthy, biologists would surely enjoy the trail. I personally liked the variety of fungi (mushrooms) I encountered along the trail. It was however a bit saddening that the trail is filled with irresponsible hikers' garbage, especially in the white rocks area. Mt. Arayat needs a clean-up drive. The vandalism on trees and rocks is also irritating. Arghh, darn you whoever did these craziness!!!
|one of the varieties of mushroom I saw along the trail.|
|to all the hikers, please be responsible naman.|
From North to South
Lunch and quick nap - that's what we did upon reaching the north peak.
|lunch break under the tower|
|view from the north peak|
|we were required to register again. it's free naman so oks na oks lang.|
|this flag marks the summit.|
|group shot at the North Peak.|
L2R: Jerson, Niño, Mars, Jay, Cris, Me, Rax, Bogart, Migs
these pips are awesome. I'm looking forward to climbing with them again.
Pero grabe lang, we were welcomed right away by a challenging steep descent - probably 80 degrees. It became even more challenging when the rain poured over us (extra challenge talaga). We encountered several confusing splits on the trail, some buwis-buhay narrow paths, and some you-need-to-cling-on-roots-and-branches trail. It was indeed very challenging but really fun nonetheless.
|steep descent, kanya kanyang kapit sa mga puno|
The rain did not stop until we reached the boulder portion of the trail (the most challenging part). Going up the boulder wasn't a pain in the ass, and the view there was quite very good (but also nakakalula).
|just below the boulder|
|group shot again at the top of the boulder. Kaya kami ginabi e, ang hihilig sa photo ops.|
Another difficult part was the long steep ascent (almost 90 degrees I guess) to South Peak that involved scrambling again. For more than 20 minutes, we were thinking where we can grip next, where we can step next, ah very challenging talaga.
|south peak at last|
04:45 PM when we reached South Peak (medyo late na sa itinerary). Medyo nakahinga na ako because I know that the trail beyond that is easy. We even checked the famous South Peak view deck, but it's almost completely covered by thick clouds. (sayang wala tuloy ang ultimate photo ops).
|we were so unfortunate that the South Peak View Deck is covered with thick clouds. wala ang ultimat photo ops ng Mt. Arayat|
|South peak Camp site, also covered with thick fog|
We really had a hard time (consumed to much time) passing through the North-South Trail, so darkness soon approached us. The very long trek from the south peak to Brgy. Juan Bano was actually easy, but the rain (that made the trail muddy) and the darkness (that turned us blind) made it also a challenging trek.
I can't see much of the trail, darkness hid the trail signs, so we just relied on instinct. The mud also made the trail a bit slippery, I slipped twice. All these things kept us in slow pace.
It's my longest dayhike yet, akala ko wala nang katapusan. The city lights and the sounds of moving vehicles and party music bring hope to our weary feet. I thought we're nearing the civilization, but it still took us hours to finally reach the ground. The usual 2.5 hours trek back to the plains turned almost 4 hours.
|concrete road at last.|
We reached the Brgy. Juan Bano at 8:30 PM, no one's manning the ranger station anymore. So we walked further the concrete road until we saw the people from Back to Christ Foundation. Our big thanks to them for letting us use their shower and offering us their truck as our ride to Arayat Town (for a fee of course).
From Arayat, we rode a jeep back to San Fernando where we had our late dinner, then we chased bus back to Manila. I reached home at around 3am.
All in all, we did Mt. Arayat Traverse in 13 hours. About 4 hours of it were spent on rest, photo ops and munching food and 9 hours were spent on the trail. My longest dayhike yet. Congrats to all who joined this hike, truly a memorable one.
And by the way, I would like to thank these sites: Lagataw and Pinoy Mountaineer, for helping us out in planning our Mt. Arayat Traverse.
Read through my other Arayat experiences:
Second time around
Clear day Arayat